Monday, August 23, 2010
And, in fact, most school librarians are also excited to welcome the new school year. For us, this day is much more a new beginning than January 1.
The first day of school brings freshly sharpened pencils, pointy crayons, clean lockers, and empty notebooks. It's a day of optimism.
In the library, the books are completely in order and straight on the shelves for perhaps the only time all year (but that's ok--we want them to be used). Our new displays are bright and catchy. Our bulletin boards are fresh. We have read tons of books over the summer and are ready to recommend them to kids. We have great ideas to collaborate with teachers.
A New Year's Resolution
Of course no new year would be complete without resolutions. Let's do ourselves a favor and skip the ones in which we promise ourselves never again to eat sugar, to attend the family reunion each year, or to finally read Moby Dick.
Before I propose just one resolution, let me take a brief detour to connect a couple of seemingly unconnected sources.
1. This summer I was fortunate enough to hear Raymond McNulty speak about rigor and relevance in schools. One of the pieces that kept coming back to me is that in order to achieve rigor, learning must be relevant. In order for learning to be relevant, relationships must be established first. Relationships are critical.
Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard. A piece that resonated with me is that complex problems need simple solutions.
So...it may follow that in order to solve the complex issue of how to create students who are information fluent, the first step may be to establish relationships with these students AND their teachers.
Even if you don't buy into my logic, it darn sure couldn't hurt, right?
I propose that we all make a new year's resolution that we can really keep.
Work on relationships this year.
How can we work on relationships?
1. Smile and greet every person who comes in the library by name. Every time!
2. Every time possible, walk over and ask how you can help.
3. Listen. Treat every request as important, even if you're busy.
4. As Michael Stephens suggests, perform a "kindness audit" for your library.
5. Ditch the fines. Consider, as one of our wise librarians says, "Your book is due when you've read it through."
6. Nix the millions of rules. Most of us behave in a civil manner without posting them. Deal with those of us who don't individually and quietly.
7. Ditto to the zillions of procedures. Don't make us jump through hoops to check out a book or chances are we won't bother next time.
8. Try to say yes much more often than you say no.
9. Look around at your signage and get rid of anything that says NO, NEVER, DON'T, and CLOSED. Rephrase these negative statements. Instead of "NEVER print without asking," how about the much nicer, "Please ask before printing." Or even better, "You may print two pages a day if needed."
10. Be the living example of Ranganathan's law, "Save the time of the reader" (aka any person who walks through your door).
Here's to a new year and new relationships!
Monday, August 16, 2010
Monday, August 2, 2010
The book the kiddo has chosen is (fill in the blank here) too short, too long, too much below his reading level, too much above his reading level, too silly, too scary, and basically, just not what the adult wants for the child.
The kid looks at us beseechingly--help! The parent or teacher also looks to us for help, but it's more of in the "adults stick together" way. What do you do?
How about if everyone can win?
How about if the kiddo can check out whatever "just for fun book" that he likes? That way it doesn't really matter if the kindergartener checks out a 500 page tome. It makes him feel like a reader. Let him go! It doesn't really matter if a fifth grader checks out a drawing book. It's fun. Let him go!
Ditto for series books. This might be a good opportunity to briefly explain the importance of series books in creating readers (see the birthday cake theory post) and the fact that it's critical for readers to have freedom of choice in selecting what they read.
Chances are if the kid is allowed to check out his "just for fun" book, then he won't care if the adult prevails with what she considers the "just right" book.
Everybody goes away happy, and most importantly, the kid's choice has counted for something. In that case, we all win.
And with good reader's advisory, librarians will likely have another chance to recommend books the kiddo will love. If we force choices on him, he may never darken the library door again.